Apple Has Licensed iOS Design Patents to Microsoft, Agreement Bans "Cloning"

Apple has licensed its design patents to Microsoft -- the same patents at issue in the Samsung case -- according to Boris Teksler, director of Patent Licensing & Strategy at Apple. The development was revealed today in the Apple v. Samsung trial according to Dan Levine, a legal reporter for Reuters who is covering the trial from the courtroom.

Apple patent licensing director Teksler: Apple has licensed its design patents to Msft, but they have an "anticloning" agreement.

Ian Sherr, legal reporter for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, adds additional information on the statement, saying that the design patents are covered under Apple and Microsoft's patent cross-licensing agreement. Apple could be making this point to show that Samsung should have licensed the patents as well.

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In June, Microsoft introduced its 'Surface' tablet to compete with the iPad and Android tablets. Though there are significant physical similarities to the iPad, the Metro user interface is significantly different from iOS. The "anticloning" agreement between Microsoft and Apple may be satisfied by the Surface's very dissimilar operating system.

A Reuters article by Levine sheds some additional light on the agreement:

Apple's decision to license its design patents to Microsoft was consistent with its corporate strategy, Teksler said, because the agreement prohibited Microsoft from manufacturing copies.

"There was no right with respect to these design patents to build clones of any type," Teksler said.

The agreement is especially notable given the history of lawsuits between Microsoft and Apple, including the "look-and-feel" trial that Apple largely lost.

The Samsung trial has given Apple-watchers an unprecedented look behind the curtain at the incredibly secretive company, including detailed numbers of U.S. iPhone and iPad sales as well as a look into Apple's marketing strategy and the fact that Eddy Cue had worked to convince Steve Jobs of the need for a 7-inch iPad.

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Top Rated Comments

Kaibelf Avatar
156 months ago
See Samsung? Is it that hard to actually PAY for the things you take?
Score: 69 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nick_elt Avatar
156 months ago
As much as I have been burned by Windows in the past, I gotta give credit to Microsoft for showing the world that that yes you can come up with your own fresh ideas and implement them. Doesnt mean ill buy their stuff anytime soon tho. (unless some amazing Lumia Pureview comes out soon)
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KPOM Avatar
156 months ago
This bolsters Apple's case. First, it shows that Apple can be reasonable with another competitor, plus it shows evidence that Apple isn't singling out Samsung in enforcement of its design patents. Apparently at some point Microsoft and Apple reached agreement that enables Microsoft to compete in the market while satisfying Apple's concerns about design infringement.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Malus120 Avatar
156 months ago
I'll admit, I have no love for Microsoft and the majority of their products. That said, I have a lot of respect for what they've done in the mobile space. They've shown that you CAN create an alternative to iOS without blatantly ripping off Apple's IP.

This agreement further demonstrates that even Microsoft understands that
A) You license other's IP when you have to, instead of trying to get away with grand theft.
B) If you don't wanna be dependent on that license forever, all you have to do is start thinking outside the "box" of that license...

All I have to say is, either force them to play by the rules or NAIL SAMSUNG to the wall Apple.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mevensen Avatar
156 months ago
minus the fact Apple is not putting it up for anyone else. This could really come back to hurt Apple and then getting nailed for the actions.

Something already smelled pretty bad between Apple and MS.

Except that we have already seen testimony the Apple had offerred a similar licensing agreement to Samsung. So Apple did "put it up" for them, they just didn't bite.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2bikes Avatar
156 months ago
minus the fact Apple is not putting it up for anyone else. This could really come back to hurt Apple and then getting nailed for the actions.

Something already smelled pretty bad between Apple and MS.

What do you mean by `Apple is not putting it up for anyone else`? until now we didn't know they were putting it up for Microsoft either.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)